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Check Out the Eating Habits and Foraging Behavior of Peacocks

Eating Habits and Foraging Behavior of Peacocks
Peacocks are omnivorous birds that feed on a variety of foods ranging from seeds and grains to venomous snakes. Here is a brief overview of the diet of these birds.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2017
Peacocks lack teeth and swallow food as such. Sometimes, these birds swallow tiny stones that help them grind the food stored in their crop.
The peacock is an attractive bird with magnificent feathers that form a long, ornate tail. There are three species of peacocks in the world, the most common being the Indian peacock, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. The other two species are the green peacock from Southeast Asia and the Congo peacock from Congo.
Wild peacock
Peacocks are commonly found in zoos and are also raised as exotic pets. When it comes to their behavior and food requirements, the wild and domesticated peacocks may have some differences. The diet of peacocks is dependent on various factors, like its anatomy and habitat. These birds are mostly found in forests with sufficient water sources and trees for roosting. They are often found perched on tree branches, surveying the surroundings. Apart from that, peacocks are mainly involved in activities like walking, feeding, and resting.

According to a study conducted on the behavior of adult male peacocks, the birds spent around 42% of their time standing and maintaining themselves. During this time, they indulged in preening, shaking wings, wiping heads, stretching, and dusting. Almost 26% of the total time was spent on feeding and 23% was spent for resting. While they indulged in maintenance behavior during standing and resting, such behavior was minimal during their feeding time, which was completely dedicated for eating.
What do Peacocks Eat?
Wild Peacock Diet
Wild peacock food
  • With a major part of their time spent for feeding, peacocks have a highly-varied diet. Being omnivorous, they feed on both plant and animal matter.
  • Their food includes fruits, berries, drupes, leaves, seeds, grains, flower buds and flowers, bamboo shoots, tree buds, insects, worms and grubs, small reptiles and mammals, and snakes.
  • It has been suggested that these birds like to feed on fat termites. In large numbers, they may feed on cultivated crops and cause substantial damage.
  • Peacocks are among those few birds and animals that prey on venomous snakes like the cobra. They may feed on poisonous plants too.
  • It has been suggested that these birds have the ability to convert poison to beneficial compounds that enhance their feather colors. It is also said that peacocks eat bright-colored things, especially those in white.
Beautiful peacock
  • Peacocks are found in areas with water sources, and are found to drink water many times during the day, especially after feeding and before roosting on tree branches.
Captive Peacock Diet
Captive peacock food
  • Domesticated peacocks can be fed with poultry grains, bird fruit mix, game bird pellets, cat food, lettuce, celery leaves, bananas, carrot tops, insects, etc. Kitchen waste from vegetables, fruits, and bread is also devoured by these birds.
  • They need a good amount of protein for healthy growth. In the wild, insects provide a major chunk of their protein supply. Domesticated adult peacocks can be fed with turkey pellets occasionally. You may also feed them insects or grubs, chicken feed pellets, and black sunflower seeds.
  • Peachicks start feeding on insects, worms, and small animals; after three to four days of their birth. This diet provides the protein that is necessary for their growth. After a few weeks of birth, they include food items like plant leaves, flowers, and fruits in their diet.
  • You may use game bird starter mix (with moderate protein content) for feeding peachicks. Once they complete three months of age, introduce adult foods in a gradual manner.
Foraging Behavior
Foraging peacock
Peacocks are ground foragers, who spend a good amount of time for feeding. These birds prefer early mornings and evenings for feeding purposes. They are often found basking in the sun during mornings, and they like resting in shaded areas inside the forest during hot afternoons. During night, they roost on treetops, so as to escape from predators, like tigers, leopards, jackals, etc. As wild peacocks spend a considerable amount of time walking and foraging, they burn excess calcium and protein that they derive from their diet. However, captive peacocks need not forage, as they get their food without any effort. Such birds may develop gout and kidney problems due to accumulation of calcium and protein in the body.
In short, foraging and feeding are among the major activities of peacocks, when they do not rest. The interesting fact is that these birds feed on a wide range of plant and animal matter. So, it is not that difficult to take care of captive peacocks.